Tonight, after my nearly-four-year-old son’s hour-long tantrum culminating in him being held down in the car so he wouldn’t unbuckle his seat belt or hit my husband, I said while clearly shaken-up: What if I had been by myself? What would I’ve done?
Person who shall remain anonymous: God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.
Me: So what about someone who commits suicide? God’s like: Oops. Misjudged THAT one.
Because seriously, what does that platitude even mean? It’s said a hundred different ways, but it all sounds the same to me: God has given you CRAP and you better deal with it… smiling.
And if you don’t deal? Doesn’t that mean your God isn’t omniscient? Which is kind of an important part of the definition in most mono-theist conceptions of a god.
Or putting suicide aside, what if the person handles it with heroin? A fifth of Jack Daniels? Unprotected sex? Violence? (Because I would’ve LOVED to handle this afternoon with violence. Or at least duct tape.) Is that the HANDLE God’s aiming for?
I’m totally broken by my son’s tantrums. By his inability to control his emotions. He just goes shark. Something somehow somewhere hits him and BAM. He is unreachable, inconsolable and exhausting. Screaming and thrashing. Anywhere from fifteen minutes to sixty. Five to seven times a week.
And for the other twenty-three hours, he’s a sweet, well-mannered, verbal, athletic, independent and loving child.
I was motivated to cut television out completely because I thought that TV wasn’t helping him. There isn’t a causal relationship (these began long before television was apart of our lives), but TV did seem to introduce additional edginess. And he didn’t need any help.
But without TV? His episodes now occur in the middle of the night. Almost every night.
Yes, we are seeking help. And yes, it is probable that he will grow out of it. So don’t give me your non-MD/PhD diagnosis of my son. I’ll troll your blog like a dog in heat if you come after him.
I feel helpless and hopeless tonight. Because my son had two episodes in twelve hours. Because I bust my butt to parent without television, and we are up in the middle of the night trying to calm our inconsolable boy. Because the stigma of getting help is almost as bad as the stares during his rages.
I’m fighting the isolation, and I am losing. The episodes are unpredictable except that having two in a single day is rare. (Not rare this weekend, but when E’s tired, everything is worse and he had trouble falling asleep at the beach.)
And where can I go with a forty-pound unpredictable boy, his twenty-pound sister and my baby bag? Nowhere that isn’t within sight of the car. Or without a friend.
I’ve become careful and edgy. I cry easier. I have to stay away from other stressful events because I’m already at my limit. My edge.
He screams at me: GO AWAY!
And as I walk away, he screams louder almost terrified: STAY MAMA!
So I come back and he says: BUT NOT IN MY ROOM!
I have no place to go to help him.
And sometimes he hits and kicks in between the screaming and tears and terror. He’s bigger now. The physical attacks are more painful. They set off my own history of violence. Sometimes all I can do is walk away until I squash the desire to protect myself first.
And afterwards he cries. He tells me: Mama I don’t like when I feel that way.
And my heart breaks. He’s so little and scared. And I don’t know how to help him.
So when you say: God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, I think: God gave me this?
Don’t tell me God’s just very impressed with my strength. I’ve been strong all my life. I don’t have anymore to prove to God.
And all those people with their easy children? They are weak?
Here I sit writing between my tears. But if your version of God is one that makes you cry from pain and humilation, you can keep him. Tuck him next to your platitudes and have fun pulling him out when YOUR life sucks.
Meanwhile, I’ll sit next to my God on the edge of the bed while aching to pull the covers over my head.
Me: God, what if I can’t handle it?
God: Life sucks sometimes. But you don’t have to do it alone.
Me: Thanks. I still hate you right now.
And God will laugh. We have that kind of relationship.
It’s the laughter that makes me willing to get out of bed each day.
Update 1: My Son, Revisited
Update 2: Learning To Help Me Son